Monday, August 12, 2013

Vacation at Home


View from the Skyfari at the Omaha Zoo

Although it's still beastly hot with some wild summer storms, the seasons are changing where I live in Nebraska.  Teachers went back to school today; students start Wednesday.  The Miller clan had a full, fast, busy summer--mostly working on home projects, finishing up a book, traveling for work. But we did manage to work in a fun, week-long vacation. Juggling my son's work schedule, my mom's social calendar (she's a bridge playing ace!), being here for windows and furnace people, etc., the idea of a vacation was a last-minute, we've-got-this-one-week-free-can-you-make-it? time slot, kind of thing.  So with little time to plan, we decided to keep it simple.  Hubby & I drove down to Missouri to get Mom, then we visited some favorite places in Missouri on the way back to Nebraska, where we visited some wonderful local sites.  We ate fabulous, fun meals, learned stuff, shared great conversation and had a lot of fun just exploring the adventures in our own back yard.

Here are some of the highlights:

The Scandinavia Place.  One of my favorite shops ever! (they feature art/jewelry/gifts from Scandinavian countries--hubby is Norwegian descent, I've got Scottish and Viking blood, so lots of fun stuff--as well as Vera Bradley (love all the colors!) and local Independence/Kansas City merchandise) The staff is super fun and friendly. And... they had copies of my books on sale there as a local author!! My gran used to live just a couple of blocks from the shop, and I still have lots of family in the KC area.









In Nebraska, we also went to Morrill Hall in Lincoln, which is the home of the University of Nebraska State History Museum and Mueller Planetarium.  Saw an interesting star show at the planetarium (hubby & son love astronomy). And, we saw the largest complete mammoth skeleton in the world.  And it WAS huge! Scary to think of facing off against that thing with only clubs or spears. Eek!

My favorite place we visited was probably the Omaha Zoo.  We spent a day there, and still didn’t get to see all the wonderful exhibits.  It enjoys the reputation of being one of the finest zoos in the world, and I can see why.  It features exhibits based on different types of habits—the Desert Dome, the Scott Aquarium, The Lied Jungle (rainforests), Kingdoms of the Night (saw an albino alligator!), the African savanna, and so on. Loved the Skyfari ride where we rode above the African animals.  We were taller than the giraffes!  But my favorite were the gorillas—they put on quite a show for us.  One silverback charged the window and slapped it, leaving a handprint bigger than a man’s foot (the zoo people said he was just “establishing his territory”).
My son and I in the Lied Jungle

Hubby, Mom and son at Scott Aquarium (sharks swimming overhead)
What are the hidden “adventures” close to your home that you’d recommend to someone who wants to take a quick mini-vacation?  Please share your thoughts. (I’m always looking for interesting places where I can travel)

Tomorrow I’ll pick a winner and I’ll give away a copy of my brand new release, TASK FORCE BRIDE, to one lucky poster!
Best,
Julie Miller

30 comments:

  1. I know a new place that is on my "must visit" list the next time I am in Kansas City! I am of Danish decent!

    As so often happens when asked a direct question about places to visit I have to think on it. One place nearby me that is interesting is the museum in Norfolk, NE. It has a wonderful Johnny Carson display. Then there is the John C. Neiheart Center not far away. At even closer is the Clown Museum at Plainview. And Ashfall near Orchard is very interesting. Seeing all the remains of the animals that died in the ash of a volcano is awesome!

    Going soon to camp in Preston, Minnesota with ALL my kids and grandkids as well has most of my sisters and several of my nieces and their families. They tell me there is lots to see in that area. Looking forward to it! I think there will be about 33 of us celebrating life!

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    1. You would definitely love the Scandinavia Shop, Lilsis! They have whole sections dedicated to Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Scottish, etc. gifts.

      I remember taking our son to the Ashfall Fossil beds when he was younger. Fascinating. Still a live dig going on that they let him take part in.

      Sounds like a wonderful family reunion in MN! Have fun!

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  2. Sounds like you had a fantastic time! I am from Scandinavian descent so I would have loved to go to your Scandinavian Shop! I also love museums as I'm a history buff. I live in NW Oregon and although we don't always take the time to see what is around us, we have taken several drives around the state over the years. We've only lived in our current area for 3 yrs., however. Last year we stayed on the coast for 3 days for our anniversary and that was fun. We also saw some famous Gardens which were pretty. We have the famous Mt. Hood which is close but neither my hubby nor I are hikers or skiers but we did drive up there to see all the snow last winter! We've driven through the Columbia River Gorge several times!

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    1. Yes, Valri--if you're ever in the KC area, check out the Scandinavia Shop in Indepence. It's on Main St., just north of the courthouse square (lots of Harry Truman, Jesse James and pioneer trails things to see in that same area, too).

      We took a vacation to your part of the country many years ago. I thought it was gorgeous country!

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  3. One of my favorite mini vacations is a visit to Woolrock...about an hours drive from Tulsa. upon arriving you drive through a twist and turn road through herds of buffalo long horn steer, deer, elk and other roaming animals. Halfway through the drive you park your car and their is a museum to visit, full of Indian and Cowboy artifacts (including shrunken heads and dinosaur eggs. Their is also a petting zoo for the young ones, a place to buy buffalo burgers, a walking trail, and one of my favorite things...an amphitheater where an Indian woman "signs" God Bless America as pictures flash on a screen behind her. It's so awesome. Of course you can buy wonderful souvenirs also...smile.
    So want to read your new book. Congrats!!!

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    1. Woolrock. I'll have to put that on our to-do list, Brenda. Sounds like the kind of vacationing my family would enjoy.

      Hope you'll enjoy TASK FORCE BRIDE when you get the chance to read it. Thanks!

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  4. VERY NICE, Julie !
    I need a vacation...but really want some beaches.
    Okay, or a new car. Beaches vs decent car...
    hmm...

    ~Angi

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    1. Oh, the tough choices we have to make, Angi. ;)

      I'm more of a mountain kind of gal myself, vs. beaches. But seeing the ocean in any climate zone is pretty awe-inspiring.

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  5. Hi Julie,

    Great pictures - thanks for sharing. I live in North Carolina, so the best mini trips are to Charleston.NC or in the mountains in North Carolian. The Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful and there are waterfalls too. My kitties say hi to Maggie.

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    1. The Blue Ridge Mts. are gorgeous, Tammy! I took a trip to that area a couple of times following college graduation. Beautiful crafts in that area, too.

      Maggie gives a woof! to your kitties. ;)

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    2. And I know Charleston is in South Carolina - another typo. They have pretty palm trees.

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  6. Oh that all looks like great places to see... near me, we have a small zoo and aquarium that I have not gone to yet... past the city are a small amusement park, a waterpark, different types of museums, a little further is a dairy farm you can take a tour of and get some ice cream... I think my nephew has gone to more of these places and he is only 5...

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    1. Another Missouri place I'd like to visit sometime (you have to make an appointment, though, because they limit how many people can be there at one time) is the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale farm near Boonville.

      In Nebraska, I'd like to go see the "first" pioneer sod-house.

      I love that there are so many things to do in our own backyards (or pretty close to it!)

      And any trip that involves ice cream is aces in my book, Colleen!

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  7. Laura AKA Loves 2 Read RomanceAugust 12, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Sounds like you all had a lot of fun. There aren't a lot of places to visit near me unless you want to drive a few hours. Galveston is 3 hours and Houston is 2 hours and I know there are tons of places to check out down there. Now if I was still living in the Cleveland Ohio area I would say check out the Cleveland Zoo. You also have the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a few museums in the downtown area. I can't wait for Task Force Bride! Say Hi to Maggie for me!

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    1. Maggie says hi back, Laura. We got some new furniture this summer, and she's perched on the back of the love seat in front of the picture window right now...queen of all she surveys in the neighborhood. ;)

      I usually enjoy going to museums. When our son travels with us, it's not his favorite thing. But we always try to plan at least one stop that everyone in the family will like. He picked the zoo this time. Hubby picked the planetarium. I was just happy to get all of us together. ;)

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  8. We are an hour away from one big city and two hours from another one, both in southern Ontario, Canada. What we prefer to do is geocache ANYWHERE (in the world). You hike through woods, down trails, out in the open, under light standards - to find wherever a treasure is hidden. When we have company visit, we geocache with day trips near US; when we go elsewhere, we geocache with day trips near THEIR place. Either way, it provides lots of opportunity and excitement with conversation in the car between geocaches, and plenty more hiking those trails. Don't forget a hat, though!

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    1. I have a couple of friends who geocache, and they love it. Some day I'll have to give it a try. What an interesting way to explore the countryside--and I do love a good mystery. ;)

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  9. amusement parks or beaches

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    1. 2 of my favorite amusement parks are Silver Dollar City in the Missouri Ozarks (Branson area) and Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, MO. What are your favorite parks? California, right?

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  10. We have plenty of museums here including the Museum of Natural History, the Cloisters and the Met. There are also tons of places to shop and to eat.

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    1. I would love to go to NYC's Museum of Natural History. That's the one in the Night at the Museum movie, isn't it?

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  11. Hey Julie! Where Jenny and I grew up at is a small one horse town... wait a minute, there isn't horses in a town! Anyway's, our fun as kids was the local campgrounds swimming pool. Most kids went to local ponds swimming and fishing. To be a tourist you have to head to Corning Glass Museum or the Rockwell Museum. You can head over the hills to Watkin's Glen and walk the glen, which I did , once! I don't do much traveling these day's as I'm on the go locally but the end of this month is the great New York State fair and I'm heading there to see Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees along with various other singer's. I can't wait to go!!!

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    1. The Monkees? How fun. I had a pre-teen crush on them. Have fun!

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  12. I do believe that Spring has sprung early here. Soon the town will be alive with blossoms and flowers everywhere just in time for the world famous Carnival of Flowers. People come from all over the world to see the champion gardens and to watch the Carnival Parade. Come visit, I'll put the kettle on.

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  13. Carnival of Flowers? Sounds gorgeous. Some day I would love to visit Australia. (And I do love a good cuppa tea ;)

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  14. Oops! Just caught my own typo--the zoo features different kinds of HABITATS. Although, it is tremendously interesting (and often funny) to watch the peculiar HABITS of the different animals. ;)

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  15. And the winner is... Brenda Rumsey!

    Congratulations, Brenda--Maggie rolled over onto your name (I scatter the entries on the floor for her ;)), selecting you as the winner of the blog post.

    All you need to do is email me your snail mail address, and I'll get a copy of TASK FORCE BRIDE in the mail to you ASAP. Or, if you prefer an ecopy, send me your email contact for Kindle or NOOK and I'll send you a copy as soon as they become available on September 1.

    Congratulations! And thanks to everyone for all the interesting travel adventures!

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    1. Woo Hoo!!! You've made my day! Thank you so much Julie. I can't wait to read it. Hope you find the perfect mini-vacation for you and your family. I'll message you my info.

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  16. Just curious... how many of you write book reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc.?

    And how many of you have Kindles or NOOKs?

    If any of the rest of you who posted here today (Lilsis, Valri, Tammy, Colleen, Laura W., Laney 4, bn100, Jane, Pam, Mary P.) would be willing to write and post an honest review, I'd be happy to send you a copy of TASK FORCE BRIDE, too. However, giving you an ecopy for your Kindle or NOOK would be easier for me if that would work. I could do a print copy, too. Send me an email and let me know.

    Thanks!
    Julie

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  17. Congrats to Brenda!

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